Saturday, July 04, 2009

Governor Sarah Palin Rebuts Spenard Builders Supply Smear Published By "Truther" Max Blumenthal On The Daily Beast

Because of the unexpected immediacy of Sarah Palin's announcement of her impending resignation as governor, and the initially ambiguous explanation she provided, this left the field open for "truthers" to come slithering out of the shadows with the usual complement of wacko conspiracy theories.

One of those apparent "truthers" is Max Blumenthal. On the Daily Beast, Blumenthal posted a teaser article entitled "Did a scandal sink the USS Palin?" which implied that Sarah Palin, while she was still mayor of Wasilla, may have steered lucrative contracts to Spenard Builders Supply (SBS) in exchange for discounts on the construction of the Palins' Lake Lucille home. Here's the pertinent part of the Daily Beast post:

...The suddenness of her announcement raises the question about whether Palin resigned to avert a major scandal. One logical place to start looking is the affair that has Alaska political circles buzzing: an alleged scandal centered around a building contractor, Spenard Building Supplies, with close ties to Palin and her husband, Todd.

Many political observers in Alaska are fixated on rumors that federal investigators have been seizing paperwork from SBS in recent months, searching for evidence that Palin and her husband Todd steered lucrative contracts to the well-connected company in exchange for gifts like the construction of their home on pristine Lake Lucille in 2002. The home was built just two months before Palin began campaigning for governor, a job which would have provided her enhanced power to grant building contracts in the wide-open state.

SBS has close ties to the Palins. The company has not only sponsored Todd Palin's snowmobile team, according to the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett, it hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004.

Though Todd Palin told Fox News he built his Lake Lucille home with the help of a few "buddies," according to Barrett’s report, public records revealed that SBS supplied the materials for the house. While serving as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin blocked an initiative that would have required the public filing of building permits—thus momentarily preventing the revelation of such suspicious information.

Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for lieutenant governor, she awarded a contract to SBS to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex. The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow.

First, there are a couple of factual inaccuracies. The name of the company is actually Spenard Builders Supply, not Spenard Building Supply. Second, SBS is a supplier, not a contractor. And third, Sarah Palin was running for lieutenant governor in 2002, NOT governor.

Truth doesn't always matter to a "truther".

Sarah Palin has fired back with a rebuttal via her attorney, Thomas Van Flein. The full rebuttal is posted on Conservatives4Palin, HERE and HERE. I will merely replicate the most applicable portions below:

...several unscrupulous people have asserted false and defamatory allegations that the “real” reasons for Governor Palin’s resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex. This canard was first floated by Democrat operatives in September 2008 during the national campaign and followed up by sympathetic Democratic writers. It was easily rebutted then as one of many fabrications about Sarah Palin. Just as power abhors a vacuum, modern journalism apparently abhors any type of due diligence and fact checking before scurrilous allegations are repeated as fact.

The history of the Wasilla Sports Complex is publicly known. Contrary to the insinuation that as Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin “personally” oversaw bidding, construction, funding and accounting for the project (and thus, the allegation goes, “embezzled” from the project), the truth is far more mundane, and publicly available...


[This City of Wasilla link shows that], accordingly, the Sports Complex was publicly bid, in accordance with City and state law, and was accounted for in the time and manner all public projects are handled. The Mayor of Wasilla, be it Sarah Palin, or her successor, did not handle the funds, or the materials, for this project. To thus suggest she “embezzled” is as false as it is impossible.

The additional claim of “proof” of wrongdoing is the allegation that the Palins purchased building materials from Spenard Builders Supply—and that this company may have provided supplies for the Sports Complex. Prior to the construction of Lowe’s and Home Depot within the last few years in Wasilla, Spenard Builders Supply was the primary building supply company in Wasilla. It can hardly come as a surprise that it would sell materials to small homeowners or that it would also bid to supply commercial contracts. One would be hard pressed to find a home, cabin or outbuilding in the Mat-Su Valley in which Spenard Builders Supply did not sell at least some of the materials.

The Palins built their Lake Lucille house using Todd as the general contractor. Todd’s family owns a hardware and building supply business in Dillingham. He is no stranger to construction, or to rolling up his sleeves and doing work. The Palins used a combination of personal savings, equity from the sale of their prior home, and conventional bank financing to build the house—like millions of American families. The deeds of trust are recordable public records. Basic journalism and fact checking would confirm this.

The Sports Complex was built in 2002. It is now 2009. While the Federal Government has a process to follow, and that process sometimes takes time, we can categorically state that we are not aware of any “federal investigation” that has been “pending” for the last seven years. We are aware of no subpoenas on SBS regarding the Palins. We are aware that the Federal Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been helpful, responsive and diligent in prosecuting the email hacker and in cleaning up Alaska’s corrupt legislators. To be blunt — this “story” was alleged during the campaign, evaluated then by national media and deemed meritless. Nothing has changed.

During the time frame in question, SBS' only competition in the Valley was a small hole-in-the-wall Ace Hardware store on the Parks Highway just east of Wasilla, which charged premium prices for building supplies. So most people had an overwhelming financial incentive to patronize SBS, unless they bought their supplies in Anchorage.

Another Conservatives4Palin post provides a short list of bloggers who regurgitated the Daily Beast post. This story has now been picked up by the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2. In addition, the FBI has now confirmed that Sarah Palin is NOT under investigation.

Once again, another "truther" has been shot down in flames. This, of course, does not mean that there might not be something else percolating in the background, but it simply debunks this latest rumour circulating around the Internet. Of course, the first tipoff was when Blumenthal misstated three objective facts; "truthers" don't always have an incentive to do their homework.


  1. It appears not too many people care due to the number of comments left concerning Ms. Palins activities. I'm just happy she resigned.

  2. Doesnt appear as anyone cares about Sarah Palin or Spenard Builders Supply

  3. That little "Hole in the wall Ace Store" was a lot more than that. The lumber yard there was as big as SBS's yard and was more than competitive. SBS eventually bought that little hole in the wall Ace for quite a nice sum of $$'s by the way.